Israel last year had the highest cost of living among the 38 member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Prices in the Jewish state were 38% higher than the OECD average, according to the report released by the Paris-based group. Switzerland was a close second at 37% above average followed by Iceland at 32%, the United States at 25% and Australia at 23%.
However, the monthly data for June of this year showed Israel falling to fourth in the cost of living rankings, with Switzerland at No. 1 followed by Iceland and Ireland.
“Comparative price level indices are the ratios of purchasing power parities to market exchange rates,” the OECD explains. “At the level of GDP, comparative price levels provide a measure of the differences in the general price levels of countries.”
In other words, do Israelis make enough money on average to comfortably afford living in the country. And the answer more often than not is, no.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu campaigned on lowering the cost of living ahead of the Nov. 1, 2022 election and in June he chaired the first meeting of the Ministerial Committee on the Fight against the Cost of Living.
“This meeting will be dedicated, first of all, to presenting the problem. Prices in Israel are significantly higher than they are on similar or identical products in most developed countries. There is no objective justification for these gaps,” said Netanyahu.
“Israel does not need to be more expensive than most developed countries. Together with my government colleagues and the professional teams, we will wage a determined battle against the cost of living,” he said.
This problem always becomes more apparent in the summer months, when many Israelis vacation abroad, and find, often to their chagrin, that prices in “expensive” European countries or in North America are lower than in the Jewish state. What makes this particularly problematic is that Israelis on average earn less than half of what Western Europeans or Americans earn for doing similar jobs.
This writer has Israeli colleagues and personal acquaintances who fresh from returning from vacations in Western Europe and the United States are seriously thinking of going to live there for a while. This is due both to the difficult financial situation in Israel, as well as the growing social tensions and divisions surrounding the political situation in the country.
And this is relatively easy for many Israelis to do, as a large percentage of the population holds dual citizenship, and those who don’t are often able to find employment in understaffed fields.
In short, this has the potential to become a serious threat to the ingathering of the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel.
With reporting by JNS.
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